Just four candidates advanced from a pool of 10 who ran in Gainesville City Commission initial elections on March 17.
Come Tuesday, two will finally emerge from the group as winners. The Gainesville City Commission District 1 seat and the City Commission At-Large seat 1 will be decided in a run-off election on April 14. Precinct and voting location information can be found on the Supervisor of Elections website.
Though polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, election day, early voting began on April 6 and continues through April 11. Registered voters can cast ballots from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Supervisor of Elections office, Millhopper Branch Library and Cone Park Library through Saturday.
The four candidates are highlighted below.
District 1 Candidates
Hear from the candidate:
Current District 1 commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls was born, raised and educated in Gainesville.
She later worked as an educator in Miami and became the principal of a magnet art school, where she created job training programs for at-risk students.
“It was the joy of my life,” Hinson-Rawls said. “I spent 15 years there, and it took them five principals trying to replace me.”
She wants to bring similar ideas to Gainesville.
One of her top priorities includes creating job-training programs that would allow people to learn skills while on the job.
She also wants Gainesville jobs to incorporate bias awareness training to ensure equal opportunity.
“I think I need to consider teachers doing this,” she said. “I can see the University also getting involved.”
Hinson-Rawls has begun seeking grants for these programs but said reoccurring dollars are needed to turn the programs into realities.
A tax increase could help fund these projects, but Hinson-Rawls wants to make sure citizens are on board first.
“If we truly want to move forward, it’s going to take money,” she said. “I would not want to raise taxes without surveying my people.”
She suggested a poll to gauge how citizens feel about it.
Hinson-Rawls said she wants to redevelop areas in east Gainesville to include office suites, medical buildings, cafes and outdoor areas with Wi-Fi to attract more people to the area. She said funds can be used from the Community Redevelopment Agency to make this happen.
More information about Yvonne Hinson-Rawls can be found on her website.
Hear from the candidate:
Charles Goston said he’s running for the District 1 seat because he’s tired of seeing little change from commissioners in his district year after year.
“They’re not even concerned about their own constituents,” he said. “I’m watching this because I’m living in the district.”
One of Goston’s primary concerns for the district is the high cost of utilities. He said the biomass contract City Commissioners signed with Gainesville Regional Utilities has caused a serious financial burden for Gainesville residents.
“Now, people my age…are going to leave their property to their children, who are going to be strapped for the next 20 years with these escalating utility bills,” Goston said.
He said he hopes lower utility costs will inspire new businesses to move into District 1.
Other important things on Goston’s platform include the construction of an emergency medical center on the east side of town and a revamping of the Regional Transit System. He said he will use money more efficiently than it’s been used in the past to fund these projects.
Goston claims he is already more active in the community than many elected officials. He said he has played an unofficial role on various city campaigns and spoken on behalf of city developments like the Plum Creek Project.
“Why should [people] have to come to me in an unofficial capacity when I could run for office, and they could come to me in an official capacity, and I could do a heck of a lot more?” Goston asked.
He was born and raised in Gainesville and was among the first 700 black students to attend the University of Florida.
Goston played a role in many firsts at UF, including the creation of the university’s Insitute of Black Culture and the Black Student Union. He then went on to create the first African American collegiate publication, Black College Monthly, which still circulates nationally today.
Goston also worked at major radio stations around Florida as well as creating three of his own. He has served as president of the Alachua County Black Caucus two times.
More information on Charles Goston can be found at his campaign Facebook page.
At-Large Seat 1 Candidates
Hear from the candidate:
Jay Curtis was born in Orlando and has lived in Gainesville for over 15 years. Curtis said he is running “to make Gainesville the greatest place to live in America.”
He believes in a balanced approach between job creation and protecting the environment.
Curtis is a small business owner with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a master’s degree in aviation. He is also a member of the UF Performing Arts Advisory Board of Directors.
Although he has no experience in politics, Curtis said he plans on making up for it in analytical skills.
“When you vote for commissioner, you’re voting for a manager of your city,” he said. “You are hiring somebody to get in there and make good decisions for you, as the citizen, to run your city.”
Curtis said his main priority is to create an economy that works with everyone. He said he plans to diversify job opportunities and develop living-wage jobs at every level. He hopes to break the cycle of unemployment.
“I want to create jobs for everyone, encourage people to start businesses in East Gainesville,” Curtis said. “There’s a program there that I want to work with that will incentivize people to break the cycle of unemployment.”
Curtis said he wants to focus on cleaning the environment, specifically the springs and parks in Gainesville.
Lowering utility rates and improving city-wide transportation are Curtis’ other two priorities. He said he wants to focus on keeping roads in working order and providing cost-effective energy for the community.
More information about Jay Curtis can be found on his website.
Hear from the candidate:
Harvey Budd has lived in Gainesville for around 50 years. He is currently the president and founder of Budd Broadcasting Company.
Budd has served on the City of Gainesville Plan Board and Cultural Commission and was chairman of the Alachua County Planning Commission for two years.
He believes his skill set makes him the best candidate for the seat.
“When I saw that there was kind of a change taking place in the city commission, I decided it was time to jump in, and see if I could bring my thoughts to bear,” Budd said.
His platform includes enhancing GRU governance, working to end poverty and increasing jobs. To fight poverty Budd said he will focus on finding those who do not have much job training and help develop their skills.
“What we really want is we don’t want to leave any student behind who doesn’t have a job skill or talent and something by the time he gets to be 16 or 18 years old,” Budd said. “It’s a tragedy that somebody would drop out of school or finish school and have nothing to show for it.”
To increase job opportunities, he said he wants to bring in more businesses and development to the city.
Budd said he has the most experience involving job creation and fundraising. As a former certified public accountant he brought Wendy’s to Gainesville and helped his clients get loans from banks.
He also wants to make transportation friendlier for the community outside of the University of Florida campus. Budd says his goal is to give back to the community and improve the quality of life in Gainesville.
Budd said he is confident in his ability to do so.
“I’ve always had success, and when you have success, you want to give back.”
More information on Harvey Budd can be found at his campaign Facebook page.